Representatives of the film fraternity in Bollywood have reportedly given a proposal to the health ministry suggesting that directors will make their own videos against tobacco consumption which will be played before their film starts.
The health ministry's mandatory directive of showing an anti-smoking film before the screening of a movie, has long been a bone of contention between filmmakers and the Censor board, with the former stating that such videos are more of a distraction to the audience.
According to a report in The Times of India, members of the film fraternity in their proposal stated that each director will make a new video against the consumption of tobacco and play it before the screening of their films, instead of one video being showcased by all.
The TOI report further states, "While the film fraternity argued the proposed move will be more effective as viewers will be interested in watching different videos every time they come to see a film, officials in the health ministry are of the view that filmmakers may dilute the message in order to protect the aesthetic value or in interest of their own movie. Consequently , putting the entire purpose of showcasing such a warning at risk, an official said."
Several filmmakers including Anurag Kashyap and Farhan Akhtar have spoken out against the mandatory "anti-smoking" disclaimer which has to be played whenever a cigarette is seen smouldering on screen.
Kashyap had earlier approached the Bombay High Court after the Censor board objected to the exclusion of the anti-smoking disclaimer in his film "Ugly".
A PTI report quoted him as saying, "We have not used this thing (warning message on smoking) for our film so we have been denied the certificate. This warning destroys the aesthetic value of a film and distracts audience from the movie thus ruining the experience of watching a film. It is my film and my creativity and I don't want to destroy it following a rule that does not make sense to me," he told reporters here at a press conference.
"I feel I am being bullied by the Health Ministry and I refuse to take that bullying. If you think cigarette intake is harmful... bad then stop tobacco industry, don't take revenue from it. All things which you think are illegal stop those things."
Interestingly, Censor Board chief Pahlaj Nihalani also seems to hold a similar view on the issue.
Nihalani had told DNA, "As a filmmaker I know how painful it is to have anti-smoking videos inserted in the beginning and middle of your film. The first shot of the film establishes a rapport with the audience. Likewise just after interval you need to capture your audiencesâ€™ attention after theyâ€™ve gone out of the theatre to refresh themselves. When you take away the film from the director at those two crucial points of the story (the beginning and middle) you are essentially robbing him of his creative rights. That isnâ€™t fair specially when you are not a smoker. Why should you have your film and the audiencesâ€™ mood spoilt? The anti-smoking disclaimers should go.â€ť